So far in 2016, Harper’s exit velocity is down almost two and a half mph from his average last season — even as MLB’s overall exit velocity has spiked this year. Alongside that decrease in exit velocity has come a sharp increase in launch angle. Harper’s typical batted ball in 2015 ranged between a launch angle of about 13 to 16 degrees, giving him a line drive swing conducive to a high batting average. Harper started this season in a similar range, but he’s seen his game-by-game average creep up to a 20 degree launch angle in the last few weeks. Pop-ups have come along with that elevated launch angle, as he’s seen his infield-fly percentage almost double from 5.8 percent in 2015 to 10.7 percent in 2016. That subset of his batted balls are certain outs, so they explain a significant fraction of the decline in his batting average on balls in play.And it’s not a product of pitchers approaching Harper differently this season. Usually, balls thrown higher in the zone tend to get hit along higher trajectories as well; it’s one of the reasons high-ball hurler Chris Young leads the league in homers allowed. So it’s conceivable that pitchers had adjusted to Harper’s power by getting him to chase pitches high in the zone, causing more glancing contact. Yet Harper’s average pitch height in 2016 is only a tenth of an inch higher than in 2015, and his horizontal pitch location hasn’t changed either.Instead, the culprit for Harper’s problems seems to be genuinely diminished power. Let’s zoom in on a 1.5-foot wide, 6-inch tall rectangle at the center of the strike zone. Hitters normally punish the ball here, hammering balls in that region with an average exit velocity of 90.7 mph — and Harper did even better than that in 2015, hitting batted balls out of that area at 96 mph. (Fourteen of Harper’s 42 homers came from that region.) But in 2016, he’s barely exceeding the league average with an exit velocity of 90.8 mph. So far this season, he’s already made more outs in this central part of the strike zone (57) than he did in all of 2015.Pitches that Harper was punishing before are now leaving his bat more weakly, and turning into outs more often. Harper’s raw power — once his calling card — has diminished to near league-average levels, and not as a result of bad luck or a new approach from pitchers. Harper’s track record — and the projections informed by it — suggests his slugging will return eventually, but it’s impossible to say whether he needs a simple mechanical tweak or extensive time to recover from a hidden injury.Even without 450-foot home runs, this diminished version of Bryce Harper remains a good ballplayer, a testament to the breadth and depth of his skills. But at the same time, this just isn’t the Harper we were all expecting to see after the historic performance he produced last season.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Just 10 months ago, Bryce Harper was putting the finishing touches on one of the greatest position-player performances of all time. Harper slugged his way to 9.5 wins above replacement1According to FanGraphs, though Baseball-Reference.com’s version had him recording a 9.9 WAR. last season, largely on the basis of the best single-season offensive campaign since Barry Bonds broke baseball in 2004.2Among qualified hitters. But this year, Harper’s hitting numbers have slipped, and his overall value has suffered as a result.Sometimes drastic drop-offs like these are the result of bad luck, or even opposing pitchers changing their approach. But with the help of data from MLB’s radar-tracking Statcast system, we can see that Harper’s slump is a consequence of diminished power, which might be a more difficult fix.Harper’s eye-popping .330/.460/.649 triple-slash line in 2015 was driven by patience and power. He walked 0.95 times for every strikeout, the sixth-best ratio in baseball, and led MLB in isolated power (ISO) with a .319 mark. Between intentional walks, Harper managed to drive 42 home runs, making monster blasts a regular occurrence in Nationals Park.Some of that magic carried on into the first half of 2016, but lately Harper’s stats have taken a tumble. Although his walk-to-strikeout ratio has improved, his ISO is down more than a hundred points, to .209. As a result, his overall production has dropped to a pedestrian (at least by Harper’s standards) 115 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), from 197 the year before.Statcast has tracked Harper’s decline in real time. It monitors the exit velocity and launch angle every time a player makes contact, characteristics which can be used together to predict a batted ball’s value in terms of runs.3I built a Random Forest model to predict the value of each batted ball, as described in an earlier article. By looking at changes in Harper’s underlying Statcast metrics, one can judge whether he has been merely unlucky, or if he’s truly experiencing a decline in skills. In 2015, the actual value of Harper’s batted balls exceeded what we would have expected, given their exit velocity/launch angle combinations, by a significant margin. Given available data, we can’t say what combination of foot-speed and luck drove that divergence, but so far this year his actual production on batted balls has declined precipitously — even going below what the model predicts.More tellingly, Harper’s predicted batted-ball value has fallen substantially as well. Much of that reduction is owed to a decrease in exit velocity, one of the biggest components of hitting skill. Hit the ball harder, and it’s more likely to go past fielders or over fences; softer, and those same fielders can throw you out, or a would-be home run turns into a warning-track flyout instead.
Josh Brent, who surprised Dallas Cowboys management with his appearance on the team’s sideline Sunday against Pittsburgh, was banned from doing so again by the team Tuesday.Just two weeks after driving a car that crashed and killed teammate Jerry Brown — an accident for which he faces intoxication manslaughter charges – Brent spent more than half of Dallas’ victory over Pittsburgh on the sideline among teammates. He left in the third quarter.The Cowboys and officials in the NFL’s offices were unaware that Brent — who is on the reserve/non-football injury list — would be on the sideline. Both the team and the league agree that it was not appropriate, sources told ESPN.Several of Brent’s teammates encouraged him to attend Sunday’s game, but coach Jason Garrett, who spoke to Brent the day before the game, said he did not know about it until pregame warm-ups.The game already had begun when Garrett realized Brent was on the sideline, and owner Jerry Jones didn’t know until he saw Brent on television.Garrett said Monday that Cowboys players were following the wishes of Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, who asked the team to include Brent as much as they could, as part of his healing.Brent attended the game, but had to be convinced to do so. He was driven by a teammate on injured reserve, according to ESPN, who told Brent that all of his teammates wanted him to be there. But when Brent learned his being there became a point of contention for some, he left Cowboys Stadium in the third quarter.Meanwhile, a judge ordered Brent to wear an electronic ankle monitor, and also modified conditions for his continued release. His bond was reduced from $500,000 to $100,000 during his Tuesday court appearance.Brent also was ordered not to consume alcohol or drive until he has a valid Texas license, and he was fitted with a SCRAM device that will detect any alcohol consumption. The judge warned Brent that any violation of these terms will result in him being immediately returned to jail.Heath Harris, the first assistant district attorney, said he expected Irving police to file a case against Brent with prosecutors this week. Prosecutors hope to present their case to a grand jury before the end of the year, Harris said.
Detroit Pistons have agreed to a sign-and-trade deal that would land them Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, a restricted free agent. The new contract is for three years and worth a little over $25 million.In return for the guard, the Bucks will receive guard Brandon Knight, forward Khris Middleton and center Viacheslav Kravtsov, according to sources.Jennings was originally going to return to the Bucks for a one-year qualifying deal. The offer would have made him an unrestricted free agent, but the Pistons showed major interest in having the trade completed.Detroit has picked up a lot of talented players this offseason. The team acquired former Atlanta Hawks player Josh Smith, former Piston Chauncey Billups and Luigi Datome.The Bucks on the other hand, signed their first-round draft pick Giannis Antetokounmpo and free-agent guard Gary Neal on Tuesday.
In the first quarter of a scoreless 2016 AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos faced third-and-6 from their own 44-yard line. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas ran a 15-yard out, breaking toward the Broncos’ sideline. He did not catch Manning’s wobbly throw, but there was contact on the play, and Denver’s players and coaching staff appealed to the official for a pass interference call on Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan. They got one, and the Broncos got a first down, scoring the game’s opening touchdown four plays later.On the ensuing drive, the Patriots faced third-and-3 at their own 27-yard line. Rob Gronkowski ran a wheel route up the Broncos’ sideline with T.J. Ward in coverage. As the Patriots tight end turned to look back for the ball, the defender made contact and shoved him, preventing a catch. Both Gronk and Tom Brady yelled for a penalty. The flag did not come, and the Patriots were forced to punt.Similar plays led to different outcomes that benefited the team on the sideline closest to the on-field action. Most NFL refs would likely say they are immune any sideline bias. “If I make a call because a coach is screaming at me on one side of the field and it’s wrong, that’s a bad day for me,” former NFL official Scott Green told us. (The NFL declined to comment.)But as it turns out, a sideline bias in the NFL is real, and it’s spectacular. To prove it, we looked at the rates at which refs call the NFL’s most severe penalties, including defensive pass interference, aggressive infractions like personal fouls and unnecessary roughness, and offensive holding calls, based on where the offensive team ran its play.1Some of this research was published in March in Economic Inquiry.For three common penalties, the direction of the play — that is, whether it’s run toward the offensive or defensive team’s sideline — makes a significant difference. In other words, refs make more defensive pass interference calls on the offensive team’s sideline but more offensive holding calls on the defensive team’s sideline. What’s more, these differences aren’t uniform across the field — the effect only shows up on plays run, roughly, between the 32-yard lines, the same space where coaches and players are allowed to stand during play.The following graphs show the penalty rates per 1,000 plays for defensive pass interference and aggressive defensive penalties, which include unnecessary roughness, personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct, and horse-collar tackles.2The data includes regular-season games between 2010 and 2014, and uses coin-toss information provided by Football Outsiders and play-by-play data from Armchair Analysis. To estimate penalty rates, we used a model of penalty outcomes that depends on yard line and which sideline (offensive or defensive team’s) the play was closer to. Additional methodological details can be found here. So what could be causing this phenomenon?Refs are faced with a near-impossible task. They make judgment calls in real time, relying on just their eyes and their experience. Deprived of the advantages, like instant replay, that we enjoy from the couch, refs have less information to help them resist the normal subconscious urge to draw on external cues for assistance in making borderline calls. In psychology terms, this process is called cue learning. It’s why we laugh longer in the presence of other humans laughing,4Which, in turn, is the reason that many TV comedies use a laugh track. why we eat more in the presence of overweight company, and why our judgment of persuasive speeches is influenced by the audience’s reaction.The most common cue in sports is crowd noise, and because crowd noise almost always supports the home team, the way the fans sway the referees is the No. 1 driver of home-field advantage in sports. And one notable experiment suggests that how loud a crowd is helps refs decide whether an interaction should be penalized. A pair of German researchers showed actual referees old video clips of possible soccer infractions, with crowd noise played at high or low volume. Refs looking at the exact same interactions were more likely to hand out a yellow card when they heard a lot of crowd noise than when the volume was low.It follows, then, that screaming and hat-throwing football personnel may also have an effect on referee choices. In football, this sideline bias even seems to supersede refs’ tendency to support the home team: The differences in the penalty rates from sideline to sideline are several times larger than the differences in penalty rates between the home and away teams.That bias can affect the outcome even when officials have time to confer. In a 2015 playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford threw a third-and-1 pass to Brandon Pettigrew. Officials initially called defensive pass interference on the Cowboys’ Anthony Hitchens.But the flag occurred right in front of the Cowboys sideline. This led to some confusion. It also led to a helmetless Dez Bryant yelling at the official.After conferring with each other, the officials picked up the flag, a decision that Mike Pereira, Fox Sports’ rules analyst and the NFL’s former vice president of officiating, said was incorrect. Brian Burke of Advanced Football Analytics calculates that when the official picked up the flag, the Lions’ chances of winning that game dropped by 12 percentage points.Dallas won 24-20.Check out our latest NFL playoff predictions. Refs throw flags for defensive infractions at significantly higher rates when plays are run in the direction of the offensive team’s sideline; near midfield, defensive penalties are called about 50 percent more often on the offensive team’s sideline than the defensive team’s. Close to the end zone, where the sidelines are supposed to be free of coaches and players, these differences are negligible.For offensive flags, that association is reversed, at least on holding penalties.3Offensive pass interference calls didn’t vary by proximity to either team’s sideline. Here’s the rate of holding calls made on outside run plays, which shows how the defensive team’s sideline can help draw flags on the offense. Around midfield, offensive holding gets called about 35 percent more often on plays run at the defensive team’s sideline.
Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 in the opening match of the World Cup on Thursday — while looking about as bad as it could while winning by that scoreline. Its go-ahead goal came on a penalty kick following a dubious call by referee Yuichi Nishimura. Its third goal perhaps ought to have been stopped by Croatian goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. And the one it conceded was an own goal by Marcelo.FiveThirtyEight’s World Cup forecasts have been updated to reflect the results of the match, as they will be at the conclusion of each game. The projections don’t account for style points — it’s the scoreline that matters — so Brazil won’t be harmed by winning ugly.A bit more about how these updates work in a moment, but one soccer-related thought first. Some of Brazil’s edge — it had an 88 percent chance of beating Croatia in our pre-match predictions — was because of home-field advantage. Some of that advantage, as Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim have found, comes because home teams are more likely to benefit from refereeing decisions. Soccer has an especially large home-field advantage, in part because the officiating plays such a large role in the sport, especially in calling penalties and issuing red cards. Would Nishimura have made that (mistaken) penalty call had the game been played in Dubrovnik, rather than Sao Paulo? We’ll never know for sure, but the odds say it’s less likely.Back to our forecasts: Technically speaking, there are two programs that our colleagues at ESPN Stats & Info run to generate our World Cup forecasts. One program is a match simulator that plays out the results of the rest of the tournament 10,000 times. The other is the Soccer Power Index algorithm itself, which informs the match simulator’s estimate of how strong each team is.We’ll be running the match simulator at the end of each game (there will usually be a lag of 20 to 30 minutes before we get the new results on the site). However, the Soccer Power Index (SPI) program, which is computationally intensive, runs only once per day, overnight after all games have concluded.I’ll explain why this distinction matters by asking you to imagine that Brazil had drawn 1-1 with Croatia, rather than pulling out the win. This would hurt Brazil in two ways: First, it would increase the odds that it would fail to advance from its group. (Granted, Brazil’s odds would still be very high.) That change would be reflected immediately in our forecasts based on the match simulator.But a draw would also have lowered SPI’s estimate of Brazil’s strength. (SPI rates recent matches heavily, and it regards Brazil very highly, so a draw might have had a fair amount of impact.) That change, however, would not be reflected until our overnight update.There are also some other, more subtle things that can go on with SPI in the overnight updates. It’s learning more about which players a team has in its starting lineup, which reflects the player-rating component of the model. It also learns more about the relative strength of the continents. A draw for Brazil, for instance, would have (very slightly) lowered SPI’s estimate of the chances for Argentina, Colombia, and so forth, as the match would represent one data point showing that South America was not quite as strong as assumed.As far as the actual scoreline goes — Brazil 3, Croatia 1 — it won’t do much to improve SPI’s view on Brazil, either, since SPI had Brazil winning against Croatia by slightly more than two goals on average.Based on the results of the match simulator, however, Brazil’s odds of advancing from Group A have risen to 99.8 percent from 99.3 percent before the match. It’s usually not worth sweating the decimal places since there can sometimes be noise introduced by the match simulator — 10,000 simulations is a lot, but not enough to entirely remove the margin of error. In this case, however, the match simulator is just pointing out the obvious: It was going to be really hard for Brazil to fail to advance, and it will be even harder now that it’s picked up three points.How much were Croatia’s advancement odds hurt? They weren’t, actually — instead, they rose slightly to 37.5 percent from 36.6 percent. Some of this probably reflects the statistical noise that I referred to earlier. However, there is one way in which the match helped Croatia: Losing to Brazil by only two goals is not such a bad result. Mexico and Cameroon, the other two teams in Group A, could lose to Brazil by larger margins. In fact, SPI has Mexico as a 2.6-goal underdog, and Cameroon as a 3.2-goal underdog. That could make a difference if the second advancement position from Group A comes down to a tiebreaker based on goal differential, as it might. And FIFA’s next tiebreaker is based on goals scored, so losing 3-1 is better than losing 2-0. I doubt the Croats will be happy with the result of Thursday’s game, however.
Embed Code It all started as a predawn tweet: More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed But after the U.S. men’s Olympic curling team won gold in Pyeongchang, we knew it had to become reality. So, on Friday, despite bad weather in the Northeast — which left Nate calling in from an airport tarmac after his flight was diverted — I was joined in the FiveThirtyEight podcast studio by Olympic champion curlers John Shuster, Tyler George and Matt Hamilton.We talked about curling analytics, the team’s new celebrity fans and where the sport goes from here. You can listen to it on your phone by subscribing to our NBA podcast, “The Lab,”1Sadly, we don’t have a curling podcast feed … yet. or by clicking the play button below. By Neil Paine Here are some excerpts from the conversation.On advice for first-time curlers:Hamilton: “My best advice would be, don’t fall. In my first game at the Olympics, I fell. So don’t go down — it’s still hard ice. But in seriousness, if you go in with an open mind and are really curious about the sport itself — not just the throwing aspects, but actually immersing yourself in what curling is about — you’ll find all these people who are so willing to help and teach and get you into the strategy, which is really the draw. … Making shots is great, and it felt good when you made your first couple of shots in curling when you tried it, but when you finally learn why you’re throwing that shot, why making that shot set you up later in the game to win, it’s just a remarkable feeling. It really is like chess on ice, just that mental game mixed with a finesse game, mixed with the brute force of sweeping. It has all the aspects of a really fun game.”On preparing with analytics guru Gerry Geurts of CurlingZone.com:Hamilton: “He sat us down at our summer camp and explained to us where we sat [among] elite players at certain things, like with the hammer/without the hammer, up by one with the hammer/down by one with the hammer … and it went on for all of the potential scoring scenarios. And he gave us feedback [on] which positions we could be better at, which ones we’re really good at, where we need to keep doing what we’re doing. Then he gave us some info on other teams in those same kind of numbers. … I’d be lying if I said that didn’t come into play at all.”On the flaws of using curling percentage to judge players and teams:George: “It’s incredibly subjective because it depends on what types of shots you’re playing. And the way that they do stats for the television events [is] really simplistic because they’re only going on make/miss or how close you were to making the shot [but] not factoring in the difficulty of the shot. … So for the viewer at home, looking at our percentages, they probably thought that we weren’t playing nearly as well as our record would imply. … But a lot of that is because we’re playing with a lot more rocks in play. We’re making a lot more difficult shots, but the viewers are not seeing that.”On the role analytics might have in the game in the future:George: “There’s a major change coming up next season where they’re literally changing the rules in the game, where stats are going to have to be applied to figure out what the best strategies are … (Editor’s note: The change involves being able to add one extra protected stone to the area in front of the house.) It doesn’t seem like much — it’s only one more rock that you can’t take out to play — but it completely changes the strategy of how you start ends out, and they’ve been using it in Grand Slam events so far. So you see it maybe six or seven times a year, and teams are still kind of tinkering with strategy on how to defend, especially [because] it’s a way more offensive game. … Stats are going to be huge in figuring out the best ways to go about defending with this new strategy because we just haven’t done it that much.”On whether curling will be able to capitalize on its newfound popularity:Shuster: “I think you’re going to see it because [of] the ratings that we were getting during the Olympics and the ratings we’ve been getting with “Curling Night in America” the last couple of years. What happens is, we haven’t had national television coverage between Olympic cycles, and then every Olympics we get more and more coverage and the ratings get better and better. And then all of a sudden, NBC Sports Network ran “Curling Night in America,” so we had a weekly show going on. After we won the gold, they’re going to show one live game every single day during the world [championships] that are coming up in Vegas. … I think curling right now could be on [the same] trajectory as something like poker was 10 years ago. If the world championships are high-quality, entertaining TV this year, people are going to demand it more, and we’re going to start seeing it on more of a regular basis moving forward.”
Ohio State football players showed their talents for 30 different NFL teams at the Buckeyes’ Pro Day in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Friday. Thirteen players, including running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive tackles Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts, linebacker Andrew Sweat and center Mike Brewster, attended the workout. Scouts from every NFL team except the Chicago Bears and New York Jets came to take in the action and evaluate the NFL hopefuls. Herron compared the day to a job interview. “(There were) a lot of great coaches out here,” Herron said. “You just want to put on the best show, be at your best.” The Buckeyes’ Pro Day, which was led by OSU football strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, schedule featured events such as the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, three cone drill, broad jump and individual position drills. The 40-yard dash, which is considered by many as one of the most important measurable heading into the NFL Draft in April, saw only 10 Buckeyes and three non-OSU participants participate in the drill as Posey, Adams and Brewster opted to not test their 40-times. Posey said the day’s events were the best part of the drafting process. “This is the best part, man. Just football,” Posey said. “Running routes, catching balls, I feel like I do that the best. I just wanted to come out and make sure I catch everything today.” Shugarts said he met with several teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs. “I was doing a lot of board work with the Chiefs,” Shugarts said. “I just got done with that … Just going over pass protections, they asked us our favorite run plays.” While the purpose of the day was for Buckeye football players to prove to NFL scouts they have the ability to play at the next level, players’ family, friends and a number of former OSU players showed up to watch the action for themselves. Notably, former Buckeye football players Beanie Wells, Jim Cordle, Doug Worthington, Bobby Carpenter, Joey Galloway, LeCharles Bentley, Chris Spielman, Andy Katzenmoyer and Dick LeBeau attended. Additionally, current OSU football players such as Braxton Miller, Etienne Sabino, Travis Howard and Bradley Roby also came to support their former teammates. Other players who took part in the day’s trials were Dionte Allen, Nate Ebner, Donnie Evege, Aaron Gant and Grant Schwartz. In some ways, Friday’s combine was one of the last chances for OSU players to improve their NFL Draft status in the eyes of teams around the league. Officially, the draft opens on April 26. Andrew Hollern contributed to this story.
Rain delays are a big part of baseball, and the Ohio State baseball team was reminded of that this past weekend. During rain-outs, the players have to keep themselves entertained, and the Buckeyes have a few preferred pastimes they use while waiting to participate in America’s pastime. A game can be delayed when rain causes low visibility for players, the field isn’t playable due to pooling or standing water or if there is lightning in the area, according to the Major League Baseball rule book. The umpires at the games make rulings about rain delays. Delayed games might be resumed when the weather improves to the umpires’ liking, or the field is cleared of water, but are canceled and can be made up in a doubleheader if the problem persists. The OSU baseball team had two games postponed due to rain. The most recent weather-related interruption in the Buckeyes’ schedule occurred Saturday when OSU’s afternoon game against Nebraksa was rained out and rescheduled for Sunday as part of a doubleheader. OSU lost both games, 5-4, and 17-9, respectively, and lost the series, 2-1. The Buckeyes also had seven games rained-out and cancelled last season. Buckeye players said no one has done anything comparable to the viral videos of minor-leaguers jousting or holding a dance competition, but they like to have fun during weather delays. “We haven’t had any jousting, but we had our manager slide across the turf when it was raining,” said senior outfielder Dave Corna. “But for the most part, we’re just fooling around and staying loose.” Senior pitcher Andrew Armstrong said the Buckeyes haven’t had a chance to bust out anything too crazy since there’s only been one rain delay. Armstrong also said as a team, they like to stay relaxed during delays before and during games. “It all really depends on what you feel like doing,” Armstrong said. “Some guys like to have fun and do stuff. We’ll go and play two-ball, a practice game or we’ll watch TV. It depends on the mood of the game. Like, if we’re losing probably not a lot, but if it’s before the game we’ll just have fun.” Players said they like to stay relaxed during the delays in the middle of games, but coach Greg Beals said the players tend to keep working as well. “You try to keep it loose,” Beals said. “Some guys will go in (to the team clubhouse) and play cards or play XBOX, and some guys will even hit in the batting cages. Other guys will just sit in the dugout and play the name game. A bunch of different stuff goes on.” Beals said his team is full of guys with lots of personality, but the fun will stay in-house when the tarp is rolled out onto the field because of rain. “We’ve got some good characters in our club, but we’re not the type to go out on stage and do it,” Beals said. “We’ll keep it in the clubhouse.”
Freshman Kyle Snyder competes against Minnesota on Feb. 6 at the Schottenstein Center. The Buckeyes defeated the Golden Gophers, 22-13.Samantha Hollingshead / Lantern photographerAfter winning nine straight dual meets, the Ohio State wrestling team is set to take on No. 11 Lehigh in the quarterfinals of the National Duals.The Buckeyes are favored in the majority of the matches, set to be held in Iowa City, Iowa, but coach Tom Ryan said he isn’t going to discount any opponent, especially as the postseason approaches.“We definitely aren’t overlooking Lehigh. Those guys are Pennsylvania boys, they have been through a lot of battles. Wrestling in that state, you have to be ready each and every week,” Ryan said. “If we are off in any matches, they can make this tough for us.”As to how confident Ryan feels, it’s about 50-50, he said.“I feel good about five or six matches, but anything can happen,” Ryan said.One of those matches will include OSU freshman Kyle Snyder, who ranks third nationally, going up against sophomore Elliot Riddick, ranked No. 10.“Riddick is not a pushover, he’s really good. He jumped up two weight classes from 174 to 197 and he looks like a natural 197 pounder,” Ryan said. “The good thing is our guy (Snyder) is always ready for every opponent.”Snyder is aware of his opponent’s skillset and says it’s a good matchup for him.“I’ve seen that he’s fast and has some good leg attacks, but I should be ready for all of that,” Snyder said. “The guys in our practice room have given me the same look and have me prepared.”Beyond Snyder’s top-10 matchup, the Buckeyes and the Mountain Hawks will send a total of five weight classes in which both wrestlers are ranked in the top 20.The winner of the quarterfinal will advance to face the winner of No. 2 Missouri and No. 12 Illinois in the seminfinals. The Buckeyes lost to the Tigers on Dec. 14 in Columbus, 20-19. The match was decided by the fourth tiebreaker in which Missouri achieved the first takedown in the opening match of the dual. OSU has yet to face Illinois this year.The match between OSU and Lehigh is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday with the semifinals beginning at 4 p.m. the same day.The semifinal winners are set to compete for the championship at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Former Missouri State assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Jennifer Sullivan is joining the Ohio State women’s basketball team as an assistant coach after spending five seasons with the Lady Bears, Ohio State announced Friday. In her five seasons in Springfield, she helped lead the Lady Bears to 93 wins and four postseason appearances, making the NCAA Tournament in 2016. “I am really excited to add Jennifer to our staff,” Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said in a press release. “Her basketball knowledge and her diverse background will be a great asset as we continue to build a championship program.”From 2001-2005, Sullivan was a three-year starter at Memphis, recording 800 points, 310 rebounds and 99 steals during her career. “I’d like to thank coach McGuff for giving me this opportunity and I am excited to join the Ohio State women’s basketball program,” Sullivan said in a press release. “His brand of basketball is fun and exciting and I can’t wait to add my skills to the staff and help continue the success the team has enjoyed in recent seasons.”Prior to her coaching stint at Missouri State, Sullivan was the associate head coach and the recruiting coordinator at the University of Louisiana Lafayette from 2012-2013. Also, she spent three seasons as an assistant at Arkansas State.